(director: Robert Greene; cinematographer: Robert Kolodny; editor: Robert Greene; music: Keegan DeWitt; cast: Joe Eldred, Mike Foreman, Ed Gavagan, Dan Laurine, Michael Sandridge; Runtime: 116; MPAA Rating: R; producers; Susan Bedusa/Bennett Elliott/Duglas Tirola: Netflix; 2021)
“It might be a necessary film, but it’s an excruciating film to watch without feeling pained.”
Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz
It premiered at the Telluride Film Festival.
The powerful social justice documentary by Robert Greene (“Bisbee ’17″/”Actress”) is about those traumatized and left feeling the shame by the sexual abuse committed against them by the corrupt priests of the Catholic Church. The adult survivors are seen finding ways to recover from that horrible experience many years after the abuse incidents when they were children.
The Greene film follows six men in Kansas City, Missouri, who were abused by Catholic priests and clergy, who are now involved in a drama therapy-inspired experiment in an attempt to exorcise their trauma.
The hurt men develop a tight bond as they work together to shoot five scripted movie scenes based on their experiences. The men are: Joe Eldred, Mike Foreman, Ed Gavagan, Dan Laurine, Michael Sandridge. The sixth survivor, Tom Viviano, says he cannot tell his story because it’s still in the courts. Thereby he has the unenviable assignment of playing the predator priests.
It might be a necessary film, but it’s an excruciating film to watch without feeling pained. My heart goes out to these brave men, and my contempt is reserved for the Church who failed to nip this problem in its bud and never tried to do the right thing. It leaves us asking–Would Jesus have acted like them?
REVIEWED ON 12/1/2021 GRADE: B